Petya's Dream

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Delia created just over a minute of music and effects for Petya's Dream in episode 18 of Michael Bakewell's 20-part BBC radio adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace, a series broadcast from 30th December 1969 to 12th May 1970 on BBC Radio 4.[1] These dates place episode 18 on the 28th April 1970.

Tolstoy's work is in fifteen books and two epilogues, each with about twenty chapters. Petya has a dream in Book 14 (1812), Chapter X:[2]

   Petya's eyes began to close and he swayed a little.
   The trees were dripping. Quiet talking was heard. The horses neighed and jostled one another. Someone snored.
   "Ozheg-zheg, Ozheg-zheg..." hissed the saber against the whetstone, and suddenly Petya heard an harmonious orchestra playing some unknown, sweetly solemn hymn. Petya was as musical as Natasha and more so than Nicholas, but had never learned music or thought about it, and so the melody that unexpectedly came to his mind seemed to him particularly fresh and attractive. The music became more and more audible. The melody grew and passed from one instrument to another. And what was played was a fugue—though Petya had not the least conception of what a fugue is. Each instrument—now resembling a violin and now a horn, but better and clearer than a violin or horn—played its own part, and before it had finished the melody merged with another instrument that began almost the same air, and then with a third and a fourth; and they all blended into one and again became separate and again blended, now into solemn church music, now into something dazzlingly brilliant and triumphant.
   "Oh—why, that was a dream!" Petya said to himself, as he lurched forward. "It's in my ears. But perhaps it's music of my own. Well, go on, my music! Now!..."
   He closed his eyes, and, from all sides as if from a distance, sounds fluttered, grew into harmonies, separated, blended, and again all mingled into the same sweet and solemn hymn. "Oh, this is delightful! As much as I like and as I like!" said Petya to himself. He tried to conduct that enormous orchestra.
   "Now softly, softly die away!" and the sounds obeyed him. "Now fuller, more joyful. Still more and more joyful!" And from an unknown depth rose increasingly triumphant sounds. "Now voices join in!" ordered Petya. And at first from afar he heard men's voices and then women's. The voices grew in harmonious triumphant strength, and Petya listened to this surpassing beauty in awe and joy.
   With a solemn triumphal march there mingled a song, the drip from the trees, and the hissing of the saber, "Ozheg-zheg-zheg..." and again the horses jostled one another and neighed, not disturbing the choir but joining in it.
   Petya did not know how long this lasted: he enjoyed himself all the time, wondering at his enjoyment and regretted that there was no one to share it. He was awakened by Likhachev's kindly voice.
   "It's ready, your honor; you can split a Frenchman in half with it!"
   Petya woke up.

Its tape's catalogue entry is dated January 1970 and says its producer was Nesta Pain.[3]


Petya's Dream - Spectrogram.jpg


  • Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 28th April 1970.
  • The BBC Radiophonic Archive's tape TRW 7140: "War and Peace: Petya's Dream" is missing.[3]